The Letter S

Photo by Jessica Bryant on

The letter S isn’t just special because it is the first letter of the name of the love of my life, but it is special because it also saved me thousands of dollars.

Let me explain.

Two weeks ago I was feeling rather jolly as I arrived home after work, following a long 48 second commute home on a clear sunny day in April. The Rocky Mountains glistened in the horizon, and three little birds on my doorstep were singing their sweet song. And then, I opened a seemingly innocuous piece of mail from my mortgage company.

Needless to say, my mood instantly changed when, to my dismay, I read that there was recently an escrow analysis that determined there was a significant shortage in my account. Therefore, if I choose to make a lump sum payment of $2700 dollars, my mortgage payment would “only” jump $200 per month for the next year, and if I opt not to make that payment, it will jump $500 per month for the next year. I know our property values are rising here in Denver, and with it, tax rates, but this seemed a bit excessive. Upon further analysis it appeared that my taxes more than doubled.

After letting the shock sink in, I called my mortgage company, who explained the reason for this jump was because the taxes went up. There wasn’t anything they could do, so I wished them well, and cried myself to sleep.

The next morning, after a full night rest, I reached out to guy who works for a different mortgage company who has helped us previously while we refinanced our house, and eventually bought a new house. He quickly realized something was very off, and helped me solve the issue. He is the man– if you want to use his services, comment on this blog, and I will connect you! My address, was 798 SOUTH New Hampshire Place (name changed for anonymity– that is not my real address.) The mortgage company, however, was taxing me for 798 New Hampshire Place. For those of you who might have missed the nuance there, they weren’t taxing me for my real address, on SOUTH New Hampshire Place. They were taxing for good old regular New Hampshire Place– a property valued at 1.1 MILLION dollars. I told the lady at the mortgage company that while I wish I owned a 1.1 million dollar property, alas, I did not, and therefore, preferred not to pay the tax burden on that 1.1 million dollar property. She understood.

I think that there are a couple important life lessons to be gleaned from this.

Firstly, it is important in life to always gather all of the information, before rushing to any conclusions. I could have let this $500 monthly increase greatly impact my overall mood and wellbeing, but I didn’t. I felt that I didn’t have all the information yet, and it was too early to let this bring me down.

Additionally, this shows that little details really, truly matter. In my mortgage company’s computer system, one little cute letter “S” was missing from my address. That missing letter could have cost me $500 per month, or $6000 per year! In Judaism, we have a lot of awesome laws that greatly enhance our lives. Sometimes I hear people say things like, “but do ALL the little details REALLY matter that much? Like, does G-d really care what side of the door the mezuzah is on, or what kind of parchment it is written on?” The answer I have heard before is that if you try to email someone, but forget that dot, before the “com,” the important email will never get delivered. The tiniest details truly do matter. In the case of the email, or in the case of my getting wrongly taxed, we can easily comprehend why they matter. A challenge is that with these religious, spiritual tiny details, it is often beyond our comprehension why they matter. But nevertheless, they do.

Perhaps one approach, as Rabbi Benzion Klatzko is want to say, is that we are in a loving intimate relationship with the Almighty. And in a relationship, details matter. If my wife wanted me to make her Chinese Vegetable Fried Rice without eggs, since she hates eggs and they nauseate her, but I forget that detail, and make the dish with eggs, we can all understand how I missed the boat. I don’t understand why she hates eggs, I think they are delicious, provide us with much needed protein, and are awesome. But, she doesn’t see it that way. So, because of our loving relationship, I will be sensitive to all of the little details of what she likes, and what she doesn’t like. So too, with G-d we don’t always understand the “why” behind the details, but as beloved companions of G-d, in a deep relationship with Him, we try to be exceedingly mindful of all these details.

No matter how you slice it, details are important!

After all, one little “S” in front of my address, will ultimately save me thousands of dollars.

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